By Tom Morris
The first things the university security team tell you when you arrive in first year are: 1. If you have a bike, you should buy a D-Lock; 2. You should never leave your phone on the windowsill; 3. You should mark all your expensive stuff with invisible ink and register it with the Police property register, Immobilise.
So it was with a daft grin on my face that I went into the security office last Friday and said to the guys there: “I’ve had my bike nicked because I didn’t buy one of your D-Locks.”
Every cloud has a silver lining though- it gave me insight into what happens when you get your stuff stolen on campus. Now, I can share with you GR readers the information I learned about what you should do when things get stolen (not just bikes!) instead of just warning you about thieves
My friend Eleanor and I had just left the Bute building Friday lunchtime when I noticed my bike had gone and so the first thing I did was check Immobilise. Unfortunately I had forgotten to finish registering my bike on there.
The first thing to do then, is to go to the police station, handily situated just two buildings down from Bute, or one from Glamorgan! It was a bit scary heading in because it felt like I was signing on for parole, but the lady behind the desk understood. I thought they might not be interested in the crime, as bike crime is a major problem in and around Cardiff, I clearly didn’t lock the bike well, and they probably have bigger fish to fry. However, this wasn’t the case- the police officers spent quite some time writing down the details. They asked whether I had the lock, and if there was CCTV on the bike rack. I didn’t know either of these, so after they had given me a piece of paper with the incident number and occurrence number, which you use to communicate any further information regarding the case, I went back to Bute to find the lock.
I found the lock on the floor, severed of course. When I brought it back to the police they told me to not touch it too much because there could be fingerprints on it. They handed me an envelope and I put it in- as of course this isn’t a major crime they told me to hang on to the envelope myself, and not take the lock out. It’s now on my shelf in case they ever want it.
Next I headed to University Security, in the office located between the Sir Martin Evans building and the Psychology tower. Here I bought a D-Lock (as my dad put it, I locked the door after the horse had bolted) and they had a look at the CCTV for me.
Last of all, I made sure to join every Facebook buy and sell group going, and use https://stolen-bikes.co.uk/ to check all the major UK classified ad sites. The chances of someone being daft enough to sell my bike right away all in one piece are pretty low- in fact likelihood is they’ve already separated the wheels from the frame. You may also want to set up an IFTTT (If This Then That) alert system so you get an email, phone notification or similar every time a new ad pops up on Stolen Bikes.
When I was still in school, I lost my phone on the train. This isn’t the same as having it stolen, but the great thing about most phones now is they have GPS built in as well as 3G and everything, so you can track them down. At the time I was using a Galaxy s3 which I tracked down using the Samsung Dive service. If you’re not using a Samsung but you’re still on Android, Android Device Manager does the exact same thing, and on iOS there is Find My iPhone. These services of course require the person who stole your phone to not have turned it off, or turned GPS/ Mobile Data off.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Though plenty of bikes, phones and laptops get taken from complacent students like me every year, some people do manage to get them back. Usually it is by keeping an eye on the buy and sell groups, getting details, then handing them to the police. Do not by any means try and get your stuff back yourself! Of course, the best thing to do is work together with the police. After all, if the police get the perpetrator nicked, they can’t nick any more student possessions!